The month of April opened the grassroots circuit and with it came a number of top performances from established names and new faces. Here 10 top performers like junior big man Jahlil Okafor of the Mac Irvin Fire that I saw in the month of April…


(Note - Listed in alphabetical order)
Keita Bates-Diop – 2015 – SF – Illinois Wolves 17s
6-7 – University High – Bloomington, IL
The Ohio State commit has a smoothness about his game and he’s used it to carve out a more consistent niche on the perimeter. Keita was always productive going inside but now he’s expanded his range and skillset to become a dangerous offensive weapon from nearly anywhere within 20 feet. With his improved perimeter game, Bates-Diop proved that he might be worthy of being included with some of the top players in the country in the class when it’s all said and done.

Evan Boudreaux – 2015 – PF – Team NLP 17s
6-7 – Lake Forest H.S. – Lake Forest, IL
Boudreaux was co-MVP of the Spring Extravaganza while playing up a level with Team NLP. A tough and rugged combo forward, Evan is not afraid to mix it up inside and has improved taking his game outside of the mid-range as he is more comfortable attacking off-the-bounce or shooting face-up perimeter jumpers. It was nice to see Boudreaux still go to work on the glass even though his game pulls him away from the basket a little bit more often now.

Jalen Brunson – 2015 – PG – Mac Irvin Fire 17s
6-1 – Stevenson H.S. – Lincolnshire, IL
Jahlil Okafor was one happy camper when Brunson agreed to join the Mac Irvin Fire. Now with the inside-outside combo of Brunson and Okafor (and now Cliff Alexander) the Fire will be a tough out for any opponent. The lefty Jalen – son of former NBA player Rick Brunson – can get teammates involved, drive, work the mid-post, or knock in shots behind the three-point line. Jalen already has a mature feel for how to create extra space from his defender using his body and his footwork, although he tends to overshoot at times for the point guard position. 

Eron Gordon – 2016 – SG – Eric Gordon All-Stars (17s)
6-3 – North Central H.S. – Indianapolis, IN
The lone class of 2016 member on this list, Gordon was extremely impressive playing two grade levels up on the 17U level for the Eric Gordon All-Stars. Gordon can play above the rim with ease, has an advanced scoring feel for a young player and also knows how to play within his team’s offense. Gordon can put up big scoring numbers, but he isn’t out there regularly forcing shots and taking away from his team’s offense.

Kevon Looney – 2014 – PF – Milwaukee Running Rebels 17s
6-8 – Milwaukee Hamilton H.S. – Milwaukee, WI
Looney had his way with the competition in multiple events that we witnessed in April. He’s still an offensive rebounding machine and someone nearly impossible to defend in the high post, but he’s also worked on his handle and his jumper enough to keep defenders guessing. He’s one of the top players in the country and a potential top-10 player when it’s all said and done.

Bryant McIntosh – 2014 – CG – Eric Gordon All-Stars 2014 (Keeton)
6-4 – Greensburg H.S. – Greensburg, IN
The Indiana State commit had a great weekend at the Adidas Spring Classic and helped lead his Eric Gordon (Keeton) group to a co-championship. McIntosh played a bit of both guard spots and knocked down shots, found teammates and played a very productive brand of ball. He’s the type of guard that seemingly always makes plays when he touches the ball and even if he’s not registering in the stat column, McIntosh is usually responsible for a quick pass that led to an assist or was important in keeping the offense moving.

Jahlil Okafor – 2014 – C – Mac Irvin Fire
6-11 – Whitney Young H.S. – Chicago, IL
It’s easy to put one of the nation’s No. 1 players in this category but the way Okafor played at the Swish ‘N Dish, he certainly deserved it. Jahlil has some of the best hands I’ve seen in scouting high school prospects and can go to work in the post in nearly any situation because of his massive size, his skills and his continually improving understanding of how to pass out of collapsing double teams. He missed some time in April with a high-ankle sprain but should be back soon.

Diamond Stone – 2015 – C – Young Legends 16s
6-10 – Whitefish Bay Dominican H.S. – Wauwatosa, WI
If Jahlil Okafor has the best hands in the country then Stone is either 1B or not far behind on that list. Stone’s hands and skills for a young center are fantastic and he’s comfortable going to either block and going to work in a number of different ways in the post. When he started knocking in jumpers and trail-position three-pointers, it was nearly impossible for his opponents to stop.

Myles Turner – 2014 – C – Texas Select 17s
6-11 – Euless Trinity H.S. – Bedford, TX
There was a lot of buzz for the 6-11 Texas native coming into the April evaluation period and Turner lived up to the hype. He’s far more skilled than I believed, knocking in jumpers, showing a face-up game and also knocking in free throws with a natural and fluid release. He has soft touch and good feel around the basket, especially on the defensive end, where Myles can create havoc with his length as a shot blocker and guy that alters shot attempts.

Tyler Ulis – 2014 – PG – Meanstreets
5-9 – Marian Catholic H.S. – Matteson, IL
Ulis showed that he’s one of the best available point guards in the country with his performance at the Swish ‘N Dish and he kept the ball rolling with scholarships offers and a lot of buzz at the EYBL during the April live evaluation period. Tyler has a natural feel for the game and the point guard position and really does a lot to get his teammates clean and open looks. Tyler can also score, however, and despite his small size, he is willing to attack the rim when necessary and his floater has improved quite a bit.